How many of us grew up watching cartoons? Back in the '60's, Hanna-Barbera and Warner Brothers made great cartoons. But then came the '70's and '80's and a long dry spell of absolutely horrid cartoons -- short on beauty, lousy music, anemic stick-figured characters with forgettable stories.
But all that changed with one cartoon movie that was created by Disney: The Little Mermaid. In this one movie, the art of animation was reborn. It was followed by Beauty and the Beast, and then Aladdin, and Hercules, and the story of Moses told by Stephen Spielberg in animation form called The Prince of Egypt. At one point, an animated film, The Lion King, an ancient story from African folklore, grossed the largest amount of revenue in the history of film.
Folks, the oldest stories are still the best. They continue to engage and enthrall us because they embody truths about life that remain consistent throughout the ages. All good story-tellers -- whether they are Walt Disney, Stephen Spielberg, Tom Clancy, or Jesus -- provide us with hooks upon which we can hang our own life experiences. We identify their stories -- filmed, written, told, or sung -- with our own lives.
Do you realize there is no structure, no institution, no entity more charged with the responsibility for storytelling than is the church? When Barnum and Bailey's circus came to town a hundred years ago, it proudly touted itself as "The Greatest Show on Earth." The church can never forget that it has been charged with proclaiming "the greatest story on earth," the gospel of Jesus Christ.
It is our privilege to tell the story of Jesus' continuing work in his still living body, the church. Though Imagine is a new church, we are also the embodiment of ancient stories of faith as they now live and breathe in our world today. We look forward to telling again the great stories of faith as we move through the weeks of 2021. By doing so, those stories from history become new and alive, vital and significant to each new generation that we seek to reach with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In the name of the One who can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
Bruce Jones, Pastor and Co-Creator,
Imagine Church of the Carolinas